Now that Disney World has reopened, we have to admit that we find ourselves a complicated mixture of excited and nervous.
There’s lots of changes ahead, but as we go through these expected modifications we have identified a few things that we did before our first trip back – and we think they’d be helpful for you, too.
Here’s our advice:
Disney World has reopened
Thinking about heading to the parks? Whether you are a local or coming from far away make sure you review these 5 things before you walk out the door.
Get Very Familiar With My Disney Experience
My Disney Experience (available both as a website version and as an app) is your central hub for all things Walt Disney World.
As Disney aims to go more and more contactless, understanding and being familiar with how things work inside of My Disney Experience will be imperative for guests since this is where you’ll be accessing a lot of things that aid with that.
You don’t have to be in the parks to use My Disney Experience – you can navigate and play around with it from home.
Since you’ll likely be using the app version when in the parks, we are going to focus on that.
And since we have iPhones, we’ll be using those for the screen shots below but the app should be similar across all smartphones.
HOW TO FIND THINGS IN MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE
Here’s a quick tour to help you learn what all is available in My Disney Experience.
We aren’t going to cover every last thing in MDE, but these are definitely some of the most important pieces.
When you open up the app, you’ll get a screen that looks a little something like this:
You can scroll up and down to see important announcements.
One of the BEST tips we can give to people just learning how to navigate is to always check the BOTTOM and TOP (especially the top right corner) of each screen for additional available features.
And, the second best tip we can provide is that for a few things there are multiple different ways to access them inside of My Disney Experience.
That can be confusing for people which is why we strongly recommend you play around with the app before you go.
Along the bottom of the home screen, you’ll see 5 different icons:
Here’s what each of them mean.
Takes you back to the home screen
Takes you to the map where you can check wait times, character locations, attraction locations, etc. To switch what category is displayed, click the drop down arrow at the top of the map.
This is kind of a quick link that lets you quickly access popular spots inside of My Disney Experience, like where you make dining reservations, mobile order, and when available, buy tickets and passes.
Not surprisingly, this little magnifying glass opens up a page where you can search for something.
And finally, this opens up the rest of the menu with some very important stuff, like the My Plans and Resort sections (more on those below), access to info your tickets and passes, and the popular Play Disney Parks app.
The My Plans section is where you should be able to see all of your confirmed hotel and dining reservations.
If you haven’t done online check-in yet, you may also see a link for that under your resort info.
Online Check-In is one of those things you can often access from multiple different spots. Links to complete the process are usually available here as well as under the Resort section (more on that below).
The Resort Hotel section has lots of great stuff related to your resort stay.
If you haven’t completed Online Check-In, you should find a link for that here, too.
If you scroll down you’ll also be able to see a link to choose your MagicBands (if you haven’t already), plus info on how to use the app as a digital key to enter your room (instead of using your MagicBand).
Once your room is ready, this is also where you can see your room number (which is handy if you forget it!).
You can access mobile order from both the + and the menu at the bottom of any screen.
KEEP YOUR APP UPDATED
My Disney Experience updates are common.
We will update this post if there are significant changes, but make sure you check your app frequently to ensure you always have the most up-to-date version.
Practice With Wearing A Mask
By now we expect that lots of people have some experience with wearing a mask.
But, if you are planning to visit Walt Disney World now that it has reopened, you’ll definitely want to practice wearing a mask for extended periods of time because masks are required inside indoor locations for all guests ages 2 and up.
Learn How To Read QR Codes With Your Phone
One of the ways Disney is going to help reduce contact is by removing physical multi-use menus from as many places as possible.
In Quick Service locations there are already signs posted with menu options, and we expect to possibly see additional signage installed to increase visibility.
In Table Service restaurants, however, Disney has been utilizing QR Codes.
QR Codes (which stands for Quick Response code) can be read with nearly every smartphone.
These codes make it very easy to quickly access information.
For example, instead of typing in a website address of a menu, a QR code would take you there directly.
Because it doesn’t require the user to type in long URLs, these codes help to eliminate a lot frustration.
If you are unfamiliar with how they work, take the time now to learn how QR codes work with both Android and iOS systems.
Set Up Contactless And Cashless Payment Options
Disney is recommending all guests switch to cashless (like credit/debit cards and Disney gift cards) and contactless payment options
At Walt Disney World, you’ll have a couple different options for that including MagicBands and Apple Pay.
MagicBands are not directly connected to your bank account or credit card. Instead they allow you to charge things like meals and merchandise back to your resort reservation.
And, since this feature is tied to your resort reservation, only onsite guests can use MagicBands to pay for items.
Note: If you plan to use your MagicBand to pay for items, you must know your PIN number. If you have forgotten it, you’ll need to visit the front desk at your resort for assistance.
The other major form of cashless payment is Apple Pay and anybody with an eligible iPhone can use it.
Apple Pay is a digital wallet system that allows you to pay using just your iPhone or Apple Watch.
You’ll set it up on your iPhone. In order to keep your financial information secure, you may be prompted to confirm the setup with your financial institution – so don’t wait until you are at Walt Disney World to set it up since this can take a bit of time.
Modify Your Expectations
This one might be the trickiest.
The Disney World we all know and love is going to look a little bit different for the foreseeable future.
And, in all honesty, some things may never look the same.
From the top down, changes – BIG changes – will be visible. You’ll see guests in masks, limited live entertainment, no character meets…
All of that can be tricky to adapt to if you’re used to the way things were.
But, behind all of the changes the core of what draws us Disney fans to the parks will still be there.
So, while it is perfectly normal and also quite understandable to be wistful for the “good ‘ol days”, if you’re planning to go back we don’t think focusing on only what you’ll be missing will do you much good.
Instead, direct your attention towards all the things you will get to see and do.
Look towards the positives and know that while this is going to be new for all of us, that doesn’t mean it won’t be magical.